I walked into the pub and saw Vicky polishing glasses at the bar. ‘I hear you had the covid,’ I said. ‘Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. A couple of days of headaches and congestion. It scared me though but I soon got over it. Troy, my son, probably brought it home from daycare. He never had any symptoms though. I now have two jabs and one recovery. Should be good for a while.’
Everything seems so normal here: The pub, the lovely view, the beer. Meanwhile Europe is at war and the death, destruction and lasting impact on the world, the environment and the crippling psychological impact and devastation of Putin’s brutal war are ongoing. Ukraine is suddenly Aleppo or Srebrenica or worse.
When Camp walked and sat down, I knew that the war in Ukraine was the elephant in the room. No way we could not talk about that catastrophe. He plunked down his newspaper, I think it was the Globe and Mail, and sighed. ‘It doesn’t look good,’ he said.
Now that some kind of war on the eastern front seems imminent – according to all the major news outlets half of Russia’s army is parked on Ukraine’s borders – I knew that my friend Camp had some views on this situation. It’s all so unreal, sitting here at our seaside pub in peaceful Gibsons; an oasis of tranquility in a sea of madness it seems. So far away from the Ukraine, Ottawa and Washington and yet so close whenever I turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper. Like it or not, we are part of it all, little tribal ants in a big, complicated colony, revolving around a sun, on the edge of a minor galaxy.
‘It’s pretty clear to me,’ Camp said. ‘This is exactly where Putin wants to be.’
‘How do you see that?’ I asked.
The holidays are over, the Christmas trees are tossed aside; some still with a forlorn strand of tinsel tangled up their spent and brown branches. The relatives have left; the empty bottles have been recycled, the Visa bill has arrived. It’s called the January blues but I feel relived and content to get on with the day without the pressure of presents that nobody needs, the overabundance of food and drink, the cards unrequited and the lugubrious outpourings by the politicians and pundits. I’m glad it’s back to normal and was looking forward to my weekly chat with my friend Campbell, or Camp as I’ve always known him.